Office of department Chairman
The Ludwig and Erica Jesselson Institute for Advanced Torah Studies and the Midrasha for Women are unique institutions, dedicated to a synthesis of Torah and academic study. The Institute and the 'Midrasha' (college) provide an opportunity for young men and women from Israel and the Diaspora to undertake a rigorous double schedule of studies -- traditional Talmudic and Judaic Studies combined with full-degree programs. These programs provide a viable alternative for the student who would otherwise face the dilemma of either forsaking an organized program of 'yeshiva' learning while pursuing academic studies, or forgoing academic goals for intensive studies in Judaism. Today, more than 1,300 students study at Bar-Ilan through the Institute and the Midrasha. The Institute and Midrasha exemplify Bar-Ilan University's commitment to an integration of the sacred and the material, the spiritual and the scientific. A new breed of religious professionals and academicians is being created -- scientists, computer specialists, accountants, lawyers, historians and educators -- steeped in traditional Jewish scholarship and tutored in the occupations of our time. Students of the Institute and the Midrasha come from many different walks of Israeli life, as well as from all parts of the Jewish world. Most Institute and Midrasha students enter the university after having served in the Israeli army or in another form of national service. Under challenging personal and economic conditions, they undertake a double program of studies. Among the students, are a number who came to Israel from abroad on a one-year study program, and a growing number of immigrant students from Ethiopia, Russia and other eastern European countries. Institute and Midrasha students devote their mornings and many evenings to 'Limudei Kodesh' (Judaic studies). To provide maximal opportunities for Institute and Midrasha students in the professions, all university faculties offer required academic courses at hours that do not conflict with the 'yeshiva' studies. Scheduling of classes in order to avoid conflicts between 'Torah' and 'science' is a clear demonstration of Bar-Ilan University's commitment to the blending of heritage and modern scholarship. The study program at the Institute is extremely demanding. The students devote at least 25 hours a week to Talmudic learning. The educational format of the Institute is the traditional yeshiva pattern, a combination of 'chavruta' learning -- study with peers -- interspersed with lectures by the yeshiva staff. In addition, regular weekly lectures are given in Jewish philosophy, Bible, Mishpat Ivri, and in the historical background of the Talmud and the Geonim. Special classes are given in the study of the 'Shulchan Aruch' halachic code, allowing students to stand for the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's semicha examinations. The Institute offers a weekly shiur for university academic staff, as well. Guest lectures also are given by outstanding Rabbinic figures. Midrasha students follow an equally demanding schedule. There are two levels of study. The first is a program requiring 28 classroom hours per week over a three-year-period. A second track of studies -- the Metifta -- is for a specially-selected group of students who combine 20 classroom hours per week with a guided self study program. The Midrasha also offers professional development and continuing education programs for teacher-graduates of the Midrasha and for overseas students. At the main campus and at two Midrasha branches in Jerusalem and Safed, the Midrasha offers over 70 courses of study in Bible, Talmud, Midrash, Halacha, Mishpat Ivri, and Jewish Philosophy.